The belts are getting tighter as a result of the Bootcamp Bounty!
Burmese Tea Sauce, Venezuelan Cheeses, Gelato and Seedlab Workshops
Tea Sauce, anyone?
Mimi Ko of Mimi’s Laphet, is one of our Victorian Bootcampers, based in the Yarra Valley. She has developed what appears to be a world first: Tea Sauce. Mimi used to be a financial analyst for a large multinational company. Whilst she enjoyed that, being in lockdown and working long hours at home really got her focused on something she really enjoys, which is cooking.
Growing up in Burma, Mimi loved eating Burmese food, particularly the tea leaf salad known as ‘laphet thoke’. She says: “Laphet Thoke is a delicious, unique salad typically made from cucumber, tomatoes, corn and garnished with pickled tea leaves, sesame seeds, garlic, chilli, peanuts, chickpeas, flat beans and butter beans. It’s both tasty, colourful, crunchy and very healthy”.
However, the key element (pickled tea leaves) come from Burma, and are very hard to find and also to store. So Mimi went on a journey, creating a sauce, or salad dressing, incorporating chilli, garlic, sesame seeds and lime, and capturing more of that authentic taste of the original ‘laphet thoke’. Mimi says she was literally in the kitchen most nights trying different combinations of ingredients after work, sometimes using the blender at close to midnight some nights!
Finally, after about 100 different versions she landed on the perfect combination. Mimi bottled it and tested it with some friends, then decided to get some labelling done, and turn it into a business to help promote healthy eating and Burmese cuisine! Mimi says Burmese pickled tea is an ancient art, made from fresh tea leaves after a unique, 6 month fermentation process. However, no one has created a tea sauce using pickled tea: it’s a world first! And Mimi is also bringing a new way to enjoy tea to the Australian market.
Mimi applied for Seedlab because whilst she enjoys cooking and is pretty good with numbers given her financial background, she has absolutely no idea how to run a business! She says “Whilst I like to think I’m an expert on all things tea and Burmese cuisine which has helped me develop such a tasty and liked product, I don’t have the knowledge or experience in the other areas the business requires. Good advice and guidance is hard to find, and Seedlab gives great access to an amazing faculty and network of businesses with experience in the industry”. Well Mimi, we can’t wait to try your tea sauce! Mimi’s website is www.mimislaphet.com.au
Two Venezuelan Vets Get Cheesey
Rosselyn Escalante and Genaro Velasquez are two Venezuelan veterinarians who are now living a great life with their young family (Gabriel, 7 and Diego, 19 months), making cheese from cows that milk themselves, in Smithton.
Genaro and Rosselyn started dairy farming in 2012 in northern NSW. In July 2016 they moved to Tasmania’s North West. They say they “fell in love with Tasmania from the time the plane was landing. We could not believe our eyes; how beautiful, green, and fresh it was. We came to manage a dairy farm on the edge of the Tarkine area, surrounded by the mighty Arthur River and thousands of hectares of bushland. The wildlife was sensational, you could even hear the Tasmanian devils fighting and growling at night”.
After two years, they moved to Edith Creek and embarked on a whole new journey as share farmers, something they had considered for a long time and had been preparing and training for. “The experience was sensational; we put a great effort in it and took pride in what we achieved in that time frame”. In April 2020 they were thrilled to be awarded the prestigious 2020 Fonterra Dairy Sharefarmer of the Year Award.
Over this time, they had been making some Venezuelan-style cheese at home, all considerably basic and without much technical knowledge. Early in 2019 the idea of making cheese commercially came to mind, and
Genaro enrolled in a formal course at the New Zealand Cheese School where Australian cheese maker Neil Willman taught him the fundamentals of cheesemaking. Genaro says: “From the minute I started, I fell in love with the art and realised that a new passion had grown inside me. All the technical aspects of the process involve a great deal of science and having a science background became extremely helpful and advantageous in some way”.
The family founded La Cantara Artisan Cheeses in 2019. This name translates to a ‘stainless-steel milk can’ in Spanish, and it essentially represents their origins and the traditional aspects of the dairy industry. They milk 100 Jerseys, Friesians and Jersey/Friesian cross cows through two robotic milking machines. The family now have a range of 7 cheeses, which are all creamy and delicious, incorporating techniques and flavours merging their Venezuelan heritage with European styles.
Genaro says “It’s still early in our involvement in Seedlab, but it has made us review and analyse the way we run our business in order to make sure that we are on the right track. Seedlab has given us tools to assess and monitor the important aspects of running a business which are crucial for any business but particularly for startups. We are also getting to interact with a team of great mentors and also people that are on the same boat as us”.
You may have seen their cheesey smiles at Harvest and Farm Gate Markets, and you can also get the La Cantara Artisan Cheese range from Hill Street Grocer and Salamanca Fresh.
Rebecca Palk is one of our Seedlab Sisters Cradle Coast Bootcampers, making dairy free artisan Gelato showcasing local ingredients, in Lower Longley. Rebecca says she is constantly developing new flavours, in addition to stock standard Vanilla and Chocolate. All the flavours showcase a local ingredient whether it be fresh fruits, local Tasmanian Honey or native herbs and spices.
Rebecca says “Tasmania has so much beauty on offer and to celebrate. My hope in doing so is to bring people’s awareness to natural beauty via a sense sensation”.
Before becoming the ‘Ice Cream Girl’, Rebecca had several different jobs, including working at the Salad Bowl in South Hobart for 5 years while studying fine arts at Uni. She then lived in Melbourne as a Graphic designer for a publishing company, and worked as a private nanny for several years.
Rebecca says she is making gelato because of her passion for the product; she is an artist at heart, and loves the art of making Gelato and creating flavours. She developed a love for all things sweet when she was about 20. This love affair took her to Europe where she travelled for three months all the time hunting out the local gelateria. Rebecca says: “It wasn’t until I found myself in New Zealand and was introduced to a real fruit soft serve that it started to dawn on me that this might actually be a good premise for a business venture”.
Rebecca specialises in ‘Wellfair Gelato: her aim is to have something on the menu that is Dairy Free, Vegan, Gluten Free, and even Sugar Free”.
You can get your hands on Zen Gelato by the tub or scoop at Room For a Pony (by the scoop) in Hobart, and she can often be found at Kingston beach (weather dependent, follow my Instagram or FB for what days).
Rebecca applied for Seedlab to get some business advice and help. She says she is “getting inspired and encouraged. It has been a good chance to step out of the business and reassess it and place new or refined goals”.
Seedlab is hosting three Workshops in May. There are two Seedlab Sisters Cradle Coast Workshops “Seedlab Sisters: The People Stuff”, which are free, and will be held online using Zoom. On the 18th (6-9pm) and 19th of May (10-1pm), Seedlab Team members Sally Fairless and Amanda Hinds will be providing tools and techniques to help you build your team and bring them along on your business journey. In the daytime event, Sarah Packwood-Hollings of Alchymia Distillery, Table Cape, will share her journey.
On the 26th May (1-4.15pm, via Zoom), and in conjunction with the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology, and the University of Tasmania, Seedlab will host “Food Protection Perfection: Towards more efficient food processing”. The event will cover optimum raw material usage, utilisation of waste streams within the system, innovative packaging solutions and reducing overall waste produced during the food manufacturing process. Speakers include Tracy Harvey from Tassal, Francesca Goodman-Smith from the Fight Food Waste CRC, Jean Rogers from Redshoots NZ, David Haberfield from the National Food Institute and myself on my Churchill Fellowship findings.